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Children without a language

19 January 2016 | Sarah Klenbort

Hands display sign languageSix years ago my daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss. I was told by an early intervention centre not to sign with her. 'It may interfere with her spoken language development,' they said, though there's no research to support this claim. When she was three, I went against that advice and began studying Auslan. I enrolled my daughter in the bilingual preschool and she learned to sign better than me. She may well be part of the last generation of deaf children to sign in Australia.

Preppies' hope cuts through the terror of terrorism

19 January 2016 | Paul Mitchell

Smiling school children break through the spectre of ISIS. Original artwork by Chris JohnstonLast year, I was my son's main school-day carer. It was a year of which the second half was dominated by acts of terrorism around the world. For the first time I properly registered the fact that there were people on the planet who, given the opportunity, would kill the preppie and me because we didn't want the kind of world they wanted. I started to feel a presence looming over us. It wasn't a pleasant reality with which to engage. Nor, I soon realised, was it any way to live.

Neither blame nor thank the Jesuits for Abbott and co.

05 August 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Tony Abbott in his schooldaysIt seems absurd to hold schools responsible for the way Shorten, Abbott, Joyce, Pyne and Hockey behave. Schools have influenced them in good and bad ways, but ultimately they are their own men. So we Jesuits have no call to apologise, nor to take pride. We are not responsible for them. But we are responsible to them, as we are responsible to all our alumni, even if they languish in public life or public prisons.

Return to higher education elitism

22 January 2015 | Bill Uren

University of Western AustraliaWe can sympathise with the university Vice-Chancellors who support fee deregulation. Over many years Government financial support for higher education has been eroded in real terms, and maintaining international rankings depends upon deregulation. But do we want the major metropolitan universities to return to the financial exclusivity that characterised the early history of Australian tertiary education?

Australians don't need to speak proper English

07 August 2014 | Ellena Savage

Mouth speaking letters of the alphabetThere's a view that most Australians, including the Prime Minister, still have poor speech skills, and that there ought to be some kind of standardised verbal communication skill-level as a prerequisite for politicians, educators and advocates. Personally I'm quite content with an Australia that is accepting of vocal particularities, the flexibility of meanings, and often humorous miscommunications.

More to tertiary education shake-up than $100,000 degrees

24 July 2014 | Neil Ormerod

Scott Ludlum holds a poster reading '$100,000 degrees? I din't vote for this'Christopher Pyne's proposed changes to tertiary education place many theological providers in an interesting situation. We have seen a number of theological colleges enter into relationships with universities to assist with their financial bottom line, in the face of falling support from their church constituencies. If private providers are to receive government funding directly, we could see some of these arrangements begin to fall apart.

Soccer as a Jesuit plot

10 July 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

1911 photo of Tottenham Hotspur versus Oldham AthleticOne of the more unlikely pieces of speculation to emerge from the World Cup concerned the origins of soccer in Brazil. A historian of the game claimed that it had been introduced by the Jesuits. According to the thinking of the Jesuits at St Louis School in Itu, near São Paulo, 'all the muscles [would] work harmoniously, and the moral lessons imbibed from sportsmanship [would] be assimilated by the students.'

Inside the women's lit gender ghetto

10 July 2014 | Ellena Savage

Retro image of woman writerWomen's lit needs a course of its own'. How original to segment women's work into a category of its own so that it has no bearing on the mainstream! Men's work is universal, and women's work is specific to women. Sixty-five years later, and Simone de Beauvoir still nails it. So should we feminise the mainstream? Or continue to participate at the margins, and hope that the old guard takes notice?

Harvard professor defies Australian class warfare

26 June 2014 | Catherine Marshall

David Sinclair chats to studentsAmidst a whirl of media interviews and meetings, David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard University and one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world for 2014, paid a visit to his alma mater: a state school in suburban Sydney. State schools aren't the repositories of children too impoverished or unintelligent for the alternative; they're the living manifestation of democracy, egalitarianism, multiculturalism and ecumenism.

Philosophy professor's cavalier interventions

19 June 2014 | Brian Matthews

Iris Murdoch and Brian Medlin 'Never Mind about the Bourgeoisie' coverOn his own admission, Australian poet, essayist, philosopher, naturalist and storyteller Brian Medlin left the publication of his life's work to his last few years, but his passions, gifts and lyricism were set free in an extraordinary correspondence he conducted with British novelist Iris Murdoch. Their letters cover more than two decades and, with both writers terminally ill, are marked by love, wit, subtlety, argument and insight.

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